Thursday, June 28, 2012

Two Master Composers and Two Movies They Wrote For...

tThe wonderfully atmospheric movie "Dracula" was released in 1931, and maintains its status as one of the great masterpieces of the then newly developed sound movie era. The original music was redone for this movie in 1999 by the renowned contemporary composer Philip Glass, known, of course, for the minimalism he so successfully employed during one of his stylistic investigations. Now the crystal-clear and simplistic approach that Glass employs in this newer score truly enhances, in my view, the eerie translucency which is so wonderfully effective in projecting the story line.
Another composer, William Walton, known throughout the musical world in the last century, also did some movie scores, one of which harbors an engrossing prelude and fugue in a movie not well-known to the average movie-goer. The movie is "Spitfire," produced in England and released in 1942. It tells the story of the development of an airplane that may well have been the linchpin in the thwarting of Hitler's planned invasion of Great Britain, therefore insuring the destruction of the Nazi threat in World War II. The story is partly fictionalized, in that the genius designer of the Spitfire dies during the Battle of Britain; in fact, R. J. Mitchell died in 1937. The movie begins with Walton's Prelude, and the Fugue appears later in the film. For me, it is a truly powerful piece of movie music, and bolsters an otherwise average film immensely.
By the way, one of the most singular examples of choral writing in the 20th century is Walton's"Belshazzar's Feast."
When you have an afternoon of leisure, why not look at these two films, and decide for yourselves?

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